What is Permaculture?

Everyone’s Permaculture is different. Here goes mine: Permaculture is a design methodology to regenerate our culture.

Permaculture is a design tool to create harmonious existence within the planet, abundance of surplus and satisfied and meaningful lives.

Permaculture originally comes from permanent agriculture and was mostly concerned with the adaptation of human needs to eco-systems and sustainable land uses.

As permaculture has developed over the years it has been applied to land based systems and then to the people involved with the land based systems and then to thinking about the invisible structures within community groups and in society at large.

IMG_6949It is realized that obtaining harmonious existence within nature and enabling humans to meet their own needs requires all domains of life to be integrated into a system that is as a minimum sustainable, but preferably regenerative and creating surplus. These domains include land use, building, technology, education, culture, health, economy and communities amongst others.

Permaculture is then more accurately termed a design methodology for regenerative culture.

Permaculture ethics are at the heart of designing and are not unique to permaculture but can be seen as “life ethics”.

Earthcare respects and preserves biodiversity of the planet, regenerates and protects eco-systems.

Peoplecare asks us to meet our needs for food, water, shelter and energy in sustainable ways while supporting our physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual needs.

Fairshares promote equality, justice and abundance, now and for future generations, thus recognizing that we must live within the limits of natural boundaries of consumption and share the surplus. Any activity can be filtered through the three ethics and if it is in accordance with all, then the activity is within permaculture.


The principles of permaculture are guidelines which aid designs and techniques. Every permaculturalist has her own way of wording the principles, but central to them is the integrated systems thinking.

Eco-systems are the great teachers of permaculture, because the way nature is organized has been tried and developed over 4 billion years.

The observation of nature’s patterns and the study of cause and effect in eco-systems – ourselves being a part of them – is therefore a principle pervading all designs and actions.

Permaculture is thus a science grounded in better management of the realities of cause and effect.

Permaculture does not, however, as reductionist scientists often do, dissect the whole until all you can see are disconnected details. Rather, the science of permaculture respects wholeness.

As soil scientists, for example, we appreciate that we will never understand everything that goes on under our feet, and in our dissections we seek to retain holism — we recognise and respect that a system is more than merely the sum of its parts, and we seek to work in harmony with these observable systems.

Permaculture is a design philosophy

IMG_5740Observing systems lead to an appreciation of patterns in nature, diversity of species and elements, of their functions and interconnectedness.

We humans are a part of nature, although many of our activities are disruptive beyond the harmonious existence within nature. To change these patterns of disruptive behavior, a great deal of work needs to be done to heal human minds and emotional structure.

We need to set up systems in our communities and societies that promote harmony within ourselves and thus outside ourselves for this healing to happen. We need to work with our human ecology.

Without enabling systems we cannot sustainably use and protect the essential life supporting systems in nature that produces fresh air, clean water and fertile soils.

Thus permaculture is a design methodology to regenerate our culture.